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Meet Eric Edward Schell of Pride Portraits in The Heights

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric Edward Schell.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Eric Edward. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am a photographer. I had been doing photography for a number of years prior to Pride Portraits. Through my company, Eric Edward Schell Photography, I made it my artistic goal to always capture my subjects’ true essence and create thought-provoking images. I still navigate between private clients, photographic LGBTQIA activism, and photographing celebrity clientele, along with the campaign.

Being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community hasn’t always come easily to me. It took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin. I credit sobriety for allowing me the opportunity to realize my self-worth and my giving me the courage to chase my dreams. Pride Portrait’s mission is to visually represent the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies one photograph and story at a time. Visibility and representation for our community is key to promote the humanization of a community that is dehumanized every single day.

To date, we have photographed 3,000 people around the country. We pride ourselves on never charging to participate in the campaign, which in turn allows everyone the ability to have a platform to be visible regardless of the economic background.

Pride Portraits has been nationally recognized by and partnered with the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, PFLAG, Victory Fund and Equality Texas among other organizations and universities. Pride Portraits photographs have been featured by Huffington Post, Reuters, Elle Magazine, Harpers Bazaar, Yahoo! News, Good Housekeeping, Apple News, Outsmart Magazine and NBC’s Today Show.

The campaign started off very grassroots but has grown into a nationally recognized campaign having photographed people such as Nancy Pelosi, Alyssa Milano, Lea DeLaria, Aydian Dowling, Melissa Etheridge, Martha Plimpton, Congressman John Lewis, Beto O’Rourke, DeRay Mckesson, Brian Sims, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Les, Leslie Jordan, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, Lance Bass, Jim Obergefell, PULSE Nightclub Survivor Tony Marrero, Jacob Tobia, Alyssa Edwards and many more.

Has it been a smooth road?
Building a social media campaign is a lot of work. I spent the good part of a year dedicated to building the brand and building a strong network of people within the LGBTQIA+ community. To the detriment of Eric Edward Schell Photography. However, I wouldn’t change a thing if I were asked to do it again. Pride Portraits is I believe my life’s work. Being able to give people a platform to be visible, represented and humanized is like no other joy I’ve ever experienced.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I don’t believe there is another social media campaign that’s doing what I’m doing. There are two aspects to the campaign. The photographs and the statements from each participant. To me, the statements come first and the photos are secondary. What I’m most proud of is that the campaign speaks for itself. When contacting high profile participants to get involved, they look at our website and our mission and almost always are on board.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I feel like Houston was the best place to start this campaign. The south, in general, has a lot of work to do for the LGBTQIA+ community. People get scared to talk about politics but being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community is inherently political. Our existence is political. Being visible is so important and so vital to our survival but at the same time being visible automatically puts a target on our backs. So I never get upset when someone isn’t ready to be photographed or give a statement.

That being said, the community support has been great. I have so many people who have made things possible for me. Hugo Perez, a local artist painted the backdrop for the campaign. He did so on commission but has since become a board member and is currently working on a project that furthers our mission of visibility using his artistic skills.

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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